Every once in awhile I recall the days of my youth and all of the many hours spent in laughter and play with the neighborhood kids. My admittedly selective memory paints an idyllic picture of boys and girls riding bikes down the steep hill that undulated in front of our houses, sharing penny candies bought with our nickels and dimes at the corner store and running wildly from one backyard to the next playing games like “Red Rover”, “Hide and Seek” and “Tag, You’re it”! It was a time of fun and frivolity with nary a thought to the lessons being learned and how they would profoundly impact our lives as we grew into the mature adults we are today. But impact they did and as I reflect on those times I have have come to the realization that it is as a result of those very games that I can proudly declare myself to be an upstanding and law abiding citizen.
For those of you who know me, and that would be most but not all, thank goodness, of the people who read this blog, it will come as no surprise that I was a rather small child. For some games that proved to be an asset. As you may well imagine, hide and seek was one of my fortes as I could fit into places that were otherwise unavailable to my larger playmates. But at other times my diminutive stature rendered me at a distinct disadvantage and in games like “Tag” I found myself being “caught” over and over again. In fact, I was caught so often that I sometimes defaulted to being “it” for an entire evening. And so it was from this rather daunting experience I came to internalize two “things I know for sure”. The first is that I don’t like getting caught and the second is that, however hard I try to avoid it, I almost always will be the one that does.
Now I know you are shaking your head thinking surely having short legs is not the best rationale for becoming a law abiding citizen. And isn’t it a little strange for her to think that a silly little game is the sole reason she has lived a life free of crime? Of course I know that there are moral and ethical reasons that should inspire one to adhere to the letter of the law. But as a shallow person I’m ok with letting fear alone be the motivation behind my good behaviour and, given my life experience, feel justified in doing so. If you are still harbouring some disbelief, let me tell you a story that will erase the doubts that are swirling through your minds.
As you may recall, I have a strong preference for small foreign cars so not surprisingly, that’s what I drive. It’s a peppy little thing that in its country of origin can grace the blacktop at 160 kph without a shudder and as a result, I am always careful to keep an eye on the needle so as not to exceed any posted limits. Which is why as I was driving through Idaho, for the sole purpose of returning to my country of birth, I was somewhat astonished to look in my rearview mirror and see the sparkle of red and blue lights rather close on my behind. As I pulled over to the side (at this point I had the border in my sights but aware of the extradition laws between our friendly countries made a hasty decision not to make a run for it), and watched the State Trooper amble towards my car, I continued to wonder what on earth I had done to warrant this rather unwelcome intrusion to my journey. Here’s how it went:
Trooper: Ma’am, did you notice the 45 mph sign back there?
Me: Yes sir, I did. But you know my speedometer is in kilometres and it’s a little hard to get the conversion just right.
He looks through the window at my dash and at that moment I think I have this one licked. Until he goes on to say:
Trooper: And Ma’am, did you happen to notice the 25 mph sign?
Me: Suddenly deflated I reply, Um no sir, I did not.
Trooper: Ma’am, you know I can cite you for excessive speed. Much too long a pause. But I’ll let you off this time with just a regular speeding ticket.
Are you kidding me! I was caught for excessive speed in a 25 mph zone! Me, who let’s the guy in the Chevy Cobalt whiz by on the highway knowing all the while that with a tap of my toe I could leave him in my dust. Me, who slows down at a stale green light while everyone else accelerates through the yellow and red, even though I know, in a pinch, I can stop on a dime. Me, who wouldn’t dream of answering a call while at the wheel yet sits patiently behind the guy at the flashing green who neglects to notice the light has changed because he is so engrossed in his seemingly “more important than actually driving” conversation? Me who has made obeying the law somewhat of a compulsion if for no other reason than not to do so will ultimately result in my capture. I think it is safe to say that I have made my case.
And so it is that I have come to accept my destiny as the “person who will always get caught” and for the most part, I’m ok with it. But once, honestly just once, I would like to have the chance to be the one that calls out “Tag, you’re it!”